Mary’s Perpetual Virginity

Hope1960

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I wasn’t sure if I should put this topic here or in Denominations but anyway, as most of you know I used be Catholic and again, most of you know, the Catholic Church holds to the belief Mary was a perpetual virgin having no other children after Jesus. My LCMS church says she had other kids, saying her perpetual virginity is not Biblical.
I was reading about this on Got Questions? and they raise good points that Mary had other kids but then I read another site, a Catholic site, which states that everyone, including Protestants believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity until much later.
Both sides have good arguments for their position so how can we find out the truth?
 

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Nah, Mary only bore Jesus. Those other offspring in that household were Jesus’ step siblings from his step father Joseph.
 
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Albion

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I wasn’t sure if I should put this topic here or in Denominations but anyway, as most of you know I used be Catholic and again, most of you know, the Catholic Church holds to the belief Mary was a perpetual virgin having no other children after Jesus. My LCMS church says she had other kids, saying her perpetual virginity is not Biblical.
I was reading about this on Got Questions? and they raise good points that Mary had other kids but then I read another site, a Catholic site, which states that everyone, including Protestants believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity until much later.
Both sides have good arguments for their position so how can we find out the truth?
Different unofficial theories about this matter, as with other ones, have existed at various times in the history of Christianity. But while it is possible that Mary had no other children--AND no sexual relations with anyone--after the birth of Jesus, two facts work against it.

1. The origin of the belief is very old, but it held that Mary was a virgin at all times in her life, including the birth of Jesus. We today generally assume instead that we're talking about Mary allegedly abstaining from sexual relations with anybody after having given birth to Jesus.

According to the legend, though, she gave birth and remained still a virgin in the biological sense. So how was that accomplished? The story was that she gave birth through her side (!) or in some other extraordinary way, thus protecting her virginal condition. This is obviously a case of a belief chasing an explanation.

2. There isn't any Scriptural basis for believing in Mary's perpetual virginity. Therefore, it cannot be a doctrine. Not any more than other so-called "pious opinions" are. Examples would be the tale about animals being present at the birth of Christ and, further, that they spoke in a human language until the shepherds arrived, or that Veronica wiped Jesus' face while he was en route to Calvary and that this left a permanent image of him upon the veil.
 

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Different unofficial theories about this matter, as with other ones, have existed at various times in the history of Christianity. But while it is possible that Mary had no other children--AND no sexual relations with anyone--after the birth of Jesus, two facts work against it.

1. The origin of the belief is very old, but it held that Mary was a virgin at all times in her life, including the birth of Jesus. We today generally assume instead that we're talking about Mary allegedly abstaining from sexual relations with anybody after having given birth to Jesus.

According to the legend, though, she gave birth and remained still a virgin in the biological sense. So how was that accomplished? The story was that she gave birth through her side (!) or in some other extraordinary way, thus protecting her virginal condition. This is obviously a case of a belief chasing an explanation.

2. There isn't any Scriptural basis for believing in Mary's perpetual virginity. Therefore, it cannot be a doctrine. Not any more than other so-called "pious opinions" are. Examples would be the tale about animals being present at the birth of Christ and, further, that they spoke in a human language until the shepherds arrived, or that Veronica wiped Jesus' face while he was en route to Calvary and that this left a permanent image of him upon the veil.
Yes, as a Catholic I used to hear that Mary remained a virgin in the biological sense, too. I wondered HOW? But then I just chalked it up to being a miracle.
 

Hope1960

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Another thing about Mary…..the last time I was at my Catholic church they had a large statue of Mary adorned with something (a crown on her head, perhaps) and a kneeler directly in front of her, to pray. They say they
don’t treat her as God, just as an intercessor, but I dunno…..

But back to the topic, how do we know which version is the truth? Catholics hold that Tradition teaches us that Mary was a perpetual virgin and just because Scripture doesn’t include that part, it’s still fact due to CC Tradition.
They also teach that some of Genesis isn’t literal. They have a different view of Scripture than my new church does. (New as in I’ve been going there about three years.)
 
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Stephen

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Different unofficial theories about this matter, as with other ones, have existed at various times in the history of Christianity. But while it is possible that Mary had no other children--AND no sexual relations with anyone--after the birth of Jesus, two facts work against it.
1. The origin of the belief is very old, but it held that Mary was a virgin at all times in her life, including the birth of Jesus. We today generally assume instead that we're talking about Mary allegedly abstaining from sexual relations with anybody after having given birth to Jesus.

According to the legend, though, she gave birth and remained still a virgin in the biological sense. So how was that accomplished? The story was that she gave birth through her side (!) or in some other extraordinary way, thus protecting her virginal condition. This is obviously a case of a belief chasing an explanation.

2. There isn't any Scriptural basis for believing in Mary's perpetual virginity. Therefore, it cannot be a doctrine. Not any more than other so-called "pious opinions" are. Examples would be the tale about animals being present at the birth of Christ and, further, that they spoke in a human language until the shepherds arrived, or that Veronica wiped Jesus' face while he was en route to Calvary and that this left a permanent image of him upon the veil.

Mary's perpetual virginity in the sense of not having any sexual relations is a doctrine of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and is arguable from Scripture, though rather long.

Mary's perpetual virginity is the biological sense (i.e. in the giving birth of Jesus) is also arguable from Scripture and Jewish tradition, though even longer.
 

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But back to the topic, how do we know which version is the truth? Catholics hold that Tradition teaches us that Mary was a perpetual virgin and just because Scripture doesn’t include that part, it’s still fact due to CC Tradition.
The thing to remember there is that when they speak of "Tradition,' they're not speaking about traditions. That is to say, it's not supposed to be some legends or customs or opinions here and there in the past that they are appealing to when making new doctrines which don't have Scriptural backing.

Rather, it's "Holy Tradition," the church's idea that God gave us his word in Scripture but that he also gave us a second source of divine revelation through the consistent, universal, belief of the people of the church since the beginning.

Most Marian beliefs don't meet that test but instead are spotty, localized, and so on and, therefore, do not meet Holy Tradition's own test. As a result, two of these had to be made dogmas in recent times by way of yet another church doctrine, also of recent vintage--decrees claimed to be true by invoking Papal Infallibility. Those were the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.
 

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Mary's perpetual virginity in the sense of not having any sexual relations is a doctrine of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and is arguable from Scripture, though rather long.

Mary's perpetual virginity is the biological sense (i.e. in the giving birth of Jesus) is also arguable from Scripture and Jewish tradition, though even longer.
Neither of those has Scriptural support but, yes, we know that the Roman Church can make any stray word found in any Bible book serve as a "Eureka" moment for even the most complicated, inconsistent, and new dogmas it chooses to create. :giggle:
 

tango

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I wasn’t sure if I should put this topic here or in Denominations but anyway, as most of you know I used be Catholic and again, most of you know, the Catholic Church holds to the belief Mary was a perpetual virgin having no other children after Jesus. My LCMS church says she had other kids, saying her perpetual virginity is not Biblical.
I was reading about this on Got Questions? and they raise good points that Mary had other kids but then I read another site, a Catholic site, which states that everyone, including Protestants believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity until much later.
Both sides have good arguments for their position so how can we find out the truth?


Personally I'd chalk that one up to "it doesn't matter".

It's not as if Mary would have sinned by having sex with her husband and having more children as a result. So what difference does it make?
 

Stephen

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Neither of those has Scriptural support but, yes, we know that the Roman Church can make any stray word found in any Bible book serve as a "Eureka" moment for even the most complicated, inconsistent, and new dogmas it chooses to create. :giggle:
OK, so you are not interested.

No wonder Catholics don't stay on this forum when Protestant opinions count more than Scripture.
 

Lanman87

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OK, so you are not interested.

No wonder Catholics don't stay on this forum when Protestant opinions count more than Scripture.

I've read many Catholic explanations from Scripture about the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Honestly, they just don't add up unless you are predisposed to believe it already.

At best, Scripture is silent on the issue. And you have to believe "until" doesn't mean "until" and "Brothers and sisters" aren't really brothers and sisters. Which are both possible, but unlikely given the context of the various scriptures.

The real issue is why does it matter? I can't think of any reason the sex life or lack of sex life of Mary in her marriage(or lack of any sin in Mary) matters at all to the Gospel message of the sacrifice of Christ and redemption for all who have a living faith in Christ that is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

All but the most liberal Protestants/Evangelicals believe in the Virgin birth. That is what the scriptures teach. We see know need to go beyond that teaching by speculating on the life of Mary after the birth of Christ.
 

Josiah

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. My LCMS church says she had other kids, saying her perpetual virginity is not Biblical.


Your Lutheran pastor is permitted to hold to that opinion, but it is NOT the official stance of the LCMS (or any other Lutheran group that I know of).


Lutheranism does not have an official doctrine on this ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. Here again, my friend, you seem to be confusing the opinion of some Lutherans with Lutheranism (or more specifically, the LCMS). Our Confessions are SILENT on this (although Mary is referred to as the "always virgin" in the Latin a couple of times but it's just using the usual title, there's no embrace of such a doctrine).

But it is true that Lutherans generally embraced the view well into the 20th Century. Luther held to it... as did all the Lutheran "fathers." Francis Pieper (who wrote the classic doctrine book used in LCMS seminaries for at least 60 years - the books likely your pastor read for doctrine) holds to the view of the PVM. And as I understand it, Lutheran pastors generally held to this well into the 1970's. BUT (for reasons unknown to me), it's fallen out of favor in the past 50 years or so.

This is generally understood as PIOUS OPINION. "PIous opinion" is a view that is NEITHER affirmed or denied by Scripture.... but DOES have ancient and ecumenical ("catholic") support... it's something virtually all Christians have always believed.... it is a matter of common Christian faith. BUT since it is not affirmed by Scripture, it's not considered dogma - something that must be taught and believed. Your LCMS pastor is ALLOWED to hold that Mary had sex... but he is not allowed to require others agree with him. And he would be discouraged to teach this (as in sermons, for example) as TRUTH but he is welcomed to do so as his OPINION.

If you want to embrace the PVM you are welcomed to do so, as a member of the LCMS. IF you don't want to, you are welcomed to do so as a member of the LCMS. Neither view is dogmatically required. Just be careful that you do not condemn others who hold to the other view... including your pastor.


I was reading about this on Got Questions? and they raise good points that Mary had other kids


The Bible NEVER states this. Tradition never states this. This is a VERY new opinion that is based on modern views of sex and marriage and has zero support in Scripture or Tradition. COULD it be possible she had other children? Biblically, yes. Could it be she did not? Biblically yes... and that's what Tradition held until very recently.



Blessings!


- Josiah


PS My OWN pious opinion on this? Doesn't matter.... really none of our business.





.
 
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Albion

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OK, so you are not interested.
Of course I'm interested, or else I wouldn't have replied to your post and others dealing with the same subject.

But "the church says" isn't really much of an answer when it comes to the truth or fiction of Mary being a perpetual virgin. For that matter also, what difference it would make either way!?

The notion that being a virgin at all times makes a woman especially holy isn't something that any of us should be laboring to defend.
 

Josiah

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No wonder Catholics don't stay on this forum when Protestant opinions count more than Scripture.


ALL opinions are welcomed.... and encouraged at CH.

But no opinion gets a "pass" on truth just because it's their opinion or a teaching of their denomination. This is not a Catholic forum where Catholic teachings are assumed to be true because they are teachings of that denomination. There are forums where that assumption is made but this isn't one of them.



.
 
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Odë:hgöd

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COULD it be possible she had other children? Biblically, yes. Could it be she did
not? Biblically yes.


It was only necessary for Mary to be a virgin when Jesus was conceived; after that
it wouldn't matter how any of the rest of her kids, if any, were conceived
_
 

Hope1960

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Your Lutheran pastor is permitted to hold to that opinion, but it is NOT the official stance of the LCMS (or any other Lutheran group that I know of).


Lutheranism does not have an official doctrine on this ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. Here again, my friend, you seem to be confusing the opinion of some Lutherans with Lutheranism (or more specifically, the LCMS). Our Confessions are SILENT on this (although Mary is referred to as the "always virgin" in the Latin a couple of times but it's just using the usual title, there's no embrace of such a doctrine).

But it is true that Lutherans generally embraced the view well into the 20th Century. Luther held to it... as did all the Lutheran "fathers." Francis Pieper (who wrote the classic doctrine book used in LCMS seminaries for at least 60 years - the books likely your pastor read for doctrine) holds to the view of the PVM. And as I understand it, Lutheran pastors generally held to this well into the 1970's. BUT (for reasons unknown to me), it's fallen out of favor in the past 50 years or so.

This is generally understood as PIOUS OPINION. "PIous opinion" is a view that is NEITHER affirmed or denied by Scripture.... but DOES have ancient and ecumenical ("catholic") support... it's something virtually all Christians have always believed.... it is a matter of common Christian faith. BUT since it is not affirmed by Scripture, it's not considered dogma - something that must be taught and believed. Your LCMS pastor is ALLOWED to hold that Mary had sex... but he is not allowed to require others agree with him. And he would be discouraged to teach this (as in sermons, for example) as TRUTH but he is welcomed to do so as his OPINION.

If you want to embrace the PVM you are welcomed to do so, as a member of the LCMS. IF you don't want to, you are welcomed to do so as a member of the LCMS. Neither view is dogmatically required. Just be careful that you do not condemn others who hold to the other view... including your pastor.





The Bible NEVER states this. Tradition never states this. This is a VERY new opinion that is based on modern views of sex and marriage and has zero support in Scripture or Tradition. COULD it be possible she had other children? Biblically, yes. Could it be she did not? Biblically yes... and that's what Tradition held until very recently.



Blessings!


- Josiah


PS My OWN pious opinion on this? Doesn't matter.... really none of our business.





.
From LCMS Frequently Asked Q and A (a section of the official website of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)

QUESTION: My husband and I recently went to see the movie, “The Passion.” I was wondering who the man was with Mary and Mary Magdalene. My husband believes it was Jesus’ brother, James. My mother and I were unaware that Jesus had a brother. Why isn’t there more talk about Jesus’ entire family, if it is true that James was his brother?

ANSWER:
Perhaps a couple of comments in response to your letter will be helpful. Based on my own viewing of “The Passion of the Christ,” it is my understanding that the young man present on numerous occasions with Mary and Mary Magdalene was the disciple John, the Beloved-who became the “son” of the Mother of Jesus, and she his “Mother.”

There are a number of “James” referred to in the New Testament, including one called “brother of the Lord.” He is listed first among the brothers of Jesus, presumably as the oldest of them (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

Most scholars think that he is the same person as the one simply referred to as James in the book of Acts (12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7) and in Galatians (2:9, 12). There has been some dispute regarding the relationship between Jesus and James, the natural interpretation being that James was the son of Mary and Joseph (thus a “half-brother” to Jesus).

In the history of the Christian church, some believing in the perpetual virginity of Mary developed the view that Jesus and James were foster brothers, while others conjectured that they were cousins.

LCMS theologians have found no difficulty with the view that Mary and Joseph themselves together had other children, including James.
 
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Hope1960

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Your Lutheran pastor is permitted to hold to that opinion, but it is NOT the official stance of the LCMS (or any other Lutheran group that I know of).


Lutheranism does not have an official doctrine on this ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. Here again, my friend, you seem to be confusing the opinion of some Lutherans with Lutheranism (or more specifically, the LCMS). Our Confessions are SILENT on this (although Mary is referred to as the "always virgin" in the Latin a couple of times but it's just using the usual title, there's no embrace of such a doctrine).

But it is true that Lutherans generally embraced the view well into the 20th Century. Luther held to it... as did all the Lutheran "fathers." Francis Pieper (who wrote the classic doctrine book used in LCMS seminaries for at least 60 years - the books likely your pastor read for doctrine) holds to the view of the PVM. And as I understand it, Lutheran pastors generally held to this well into the 1970's. BUT (for reasons unknown to me), it's fallen out of favor in the past 50 years or so.

This is generally understood as PIOUS OPINION. "PIous opinion" is a view that is NEITHER affirmed or denied by Scripture.... but DOES have ancient and ecumenical ("catholic") support... it's something virtually all Christians have always believed.... it is a matter of common Christian faith. BUT since it is not affirmed by Scripture, it's not considered dogma - something that must be taught and believed. Your LCMS pastor is ALLOWED to hold that Mary had sex... but he is not allowed to require others agree with him. And he would be discouraged to teach this (as in sermons, for example) as TRUTH but he is welcomed to do so as his OPINION.

If you want to embrace the PVM you are welcomed to do so, as a member of the LCMS. IF you don't want to, you are welcomed to do so as a member of the LCMS. Neither view is dogmatically required. Just be careful that you do not condemn others who hold to the other view... including your pastor.





The Bible NEVER states this. Tradition never states this. This is a VERY new opinion that is based on modern views of sex and marriage and has zero support in Scripture or Tradition. COULD it be possible she had other children? Biblically, yes. Could it be she did not? Biblically yes... and that's what Tradition held until very recently.



Blessings!


- Josiah


PS My OWN pious opinion on this? Doesn't matter.... really none of our business.





.
Where Biblically does it say or even suggest Mary remained a virgin all of her life?
 

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Personally I'd chalk that one up to "it doesn't matter".

It's not as if Mary would have sinned by having sex with her husband and having more children as a result. So what difference does it make?
For me, mostly the problem is that when I read Scripture and the Bible mentions Jesus’ brothers and sisters it brings me back to Catholicism and their teaching which is different from what I PERSONALLY have learned about the beliefs of the LCMS. Now, maybe my pastor is only speaking his opinion and the LCMS as a whole doesn’t teach this. Again, I dunno….but the LCMS website implied it, too, IMO.
 
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tango

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For me, it’s mostly the problem that when I read Scripture and the Bible mentions Jesus’ brothers and sisters it brings me back to Catholicism and their teaching which is different from what I PERSONALLY have learned about the beliefs of the LCMS. Now, maybe my pastor is only speaking his opinion and the LCMS as a whole doesn’t teach this. Again, I dunno….but the LCMS website implied it, too, IMO.

I guess a lot comes down to exactly what is meant by "brother".

As we understand the term today a brother or sister is a sibling sharing both parents. Since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and carried by Mary it's unlikely he has any brothers or sisters in the strictest sense. Which means that the closest interpretation would be that such people were half siblings, i.e. they shared one parent but not the other. This would be consistent with Mary and Joseph having biological children in the conventional manner after they were married and after Jesus was born.

In a looser sense if we take the sense that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, having been adopted into God's family, then terms like "brother" and "sister" become loose to the point of being all but meaningless.

On that basis I'd be inclined to go with the first option and say Mary probably did not remain a virgin throughout her life. I don't see any need for Mary to remain a virgin after Jesus was born - the prophecy said "the virgin shall conceive and bring forth a child..." and doesn't make any comment about whether or not she would remain a virgin indefinitely. Arguably even that is open to some interpretation, as the underlying word can also be translated as a young woman in general, although it makes more sense to interpret it as "virgin" because "a young woman shall conceive and bring forth a child" is such a commonplace occurrence it hardly counts as a prophetic utterance.

I don't see why people are so insistent that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. I don't see anything in Scripture that specifically states it and no reason that Mary needed to remain a virgin to fulfil prophecy. That said since Scripture doesn't explicitly state that she didn't remain a virgin, the existence of half-siblings is at least something of a matter of interpretation on a subject that really doesn't matter all that much.
 

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ALL opinions are welcomed.... and encouraged at CH.

But no opinion gets a "pass" on truth just because it's their opinion or a teaching of their denomination. This is not a Catholic forum where Catholic teachings are assumed to be true because they are teachings of that denomination. There are forums where that assumption is made but this isn't one of them.



.
Catholic Answers Forums comes to mind. Sheesh. No wonder it closed,
 
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